The Book to Read When Your House is a Hot Mess

Once upon a time, before I had a cute hubby and a gaggle of kids, I was a really tidy person. Everything in its place and a place for everything? Oh yes indeed.

These days? I just can’t keep up.

I tell myself that a messy house is the necessary byproduct of fun and creativity and love. And I can believe it for a couple days.


But soon the adorable lovey dovey cards and paper bag puppets and castle cardboard boxes suddenly transform, and where I once saw creative exploration, I now see trash and chaos. My blood pressure starts rising and my brain feels like it’s going to explode.

It’s real weird.

I get a huge burst of energy and immediately begin tidying and cleaning like I’m on 2x speed. When the muttering under my breath begins, Jake and the kids recognize that the end has come. Jake rallies the kids and family clean-up begins.

The other day I was telling Jake that if we had less stuff, I’m SURE we’d have to tidy less. Jake wasn’t so convinced. He told me that we’d probably be tidying less in about 15 years when we no longer have 6 people living under one roof.

Good point.

Nevertheless, I’ve been reading up on the art of tidying. And who else would I go to than Marie Kondo, who wrote a bestselling book on this very topic a couple years ago called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. She shocked the world with the preposterous idea that the key to keeping a tidy house is to have. less. stuff. Everything should have a place, and everything you own should bring you joy.

Spark Joy

Recently, Kondo published a follow-up book called Spark Joy: an illustrated master class on the art of organizing and tidying up. In this book, she gets into the details of HOW to declutter and then organize every part of the house, as well as teaching us to recognize what brings us joy.

The key to purging is knowing what to keep and what to get rid of. For the KonMari method, the secret is this: hone your sensitivity to joy. 

Do you have some clothes that you wear, but always feel uncomfortable or self-conscious in them? Get rid of them.

Do you have 6 ice cream scoopers, 3 pizza slicers, and 8 wooden spoons? Keep what you need (one of each?) and get rid of the rest. It will bring you joy to open your drawer and not have to dig through a gazillion utensils to get to the one you need.

Is there a sweatshirt you own that is SO UGLY, but you love wearing it? Keep it! It brings you joy.

After figuring out what items to keep and what to get rid of, Kondo equips readers with detailed methods of storage, organization, and folding.

She gives detailed descriptions and pictures of how to fold everything- regular shirts, shirts with decorations, tights, socks, UNDERWEAR for goodness sake.

She also offers some great advice on all the miscellaneous items that we have no idea what to do with. My personal trouble spots include jewelry, papers, and toys. I can’t seem to get a wrangle on a good organization method for any of them. Here’s what I learned:

Jewelry but no jewelry box? Place in dividers inside of a top drawer.

Papers? Discard everything. If you haven’t looked at the papers in several years, you’re probably not going to ever again.

But toys? Ah ha. She doesn’t offer a solution;  she only calls attention to the fact that toy organization is truly complex.

Spark Joy has given me some great ideas on how to tidy up, and has given me the  encouragment I need to give away some old clothes, throw out a crate full of magazine articles (organized by theme, of course), and think more broadly about what kind of home brings me joy.

The truth is, a home that’s full of the people I love brings me joy. Even if they are a bit messy.


One thought on “The Book to Read When Your House is a Hot Mess

  1. Yes! Thank-you for this post! I go by the “If you don’t need it or love it rule, it goes.” Since I learned that, it has helped me put into perspective what I really want to keep. My house is still messy often but at least it doesn’t take as long to clean up!! Thanks for sharing.

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